Innovations

People don’t mate randomly—but this flawed assumption informs many studies linking genes to diseases and traits

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The idea that correlation does not imply causation is a fundamental caveat in epidemiological research. A classic example involves a hypothetical link between ice cream sales and drownings—instead of increased ice cream consumption causing more people to drown, it’s plausible that a third variable, summer weather, is driving up an appetite for ice cream and swimming, and hence opportunities to drown.

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